The keynote event of this year’s Comic-Con had to be the WATCHMEN panel. EW’s Jeff Jensen led director Zack Snyder, co-creator Dave Gibbons and the entire cast of WATCHMEN plus Carla Gugino through a Q&A. Snyder showed some re-edited footage expanded from the trailer with a bit more violence (Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam) and character moments — Dan Dreiberg sitting sadly next to his Nite Owl costume. References to the graphic novel as the “bible” of the shoot were rife, with the entire cast speaking to the richness and depth of the characters. There were also several references to many Easter Eggs throughout the movie.
Gibbons reveals that although he doesn’t make a cameo, ala many comics creators, his signature “G’ is seen as graphitti throughout the sets.
In interviews afterwards, Snyder admitted that though the very enthusiastic response from the 7000 people in Hall H was gratifying, it didn’t entirely relax him. There’s still much editing to be done, and it is the greatest graphic novel of all time. He mentioned the difficulties of making a movie based on such downbeat and nihilistic material at a major studio. “Of course I want Warners to make money,” he said. “But when they wonder why something violent or sexy or disturbing has to be in, I say, that’s the reason why people want to see this movie.”
Gibbons said that the experience of seeing his creations brought to life was overwhelming. He was also asked about Alan Moore’s dismissal of the film. “I see there is an elephant in the room. I wish that Alan could feel the same excitement and joy I’m feeling right now.” After the panel, he said that the last time he had spoken to Alan, Moore asked him not to bring up the Watchmen movie with him again, and he doesn’t expect to. Gibbons was also asked if there would be any new Watchmen art — a portfolio if you will– to coincide with the movie’s release, but there are no real plans at present.
There were several people in costume who asked questions during the panel, including a Batman, a Joker, and a Rorschach. The last named led to a great comedy moment after he asked about whether movies like THE DARK KNIGHT would lead to even more mature comic book movies. Snyder smiled a moment and said, “There’s something funny about being asked about mature comics from someone in that costume!”
The Beat‘s opinion? The footage looks fantastic — rich, detailed and faithful to the spirit of the book — somewhat pulpish but dark at the same time. Of course, we haven’t heard any dialogue yet, but let’s remain optimistic. The cast seems very much on board with the spirit as well. Let the countdown to 3/6/09 begin.